Smoked meats are extremely popular, but that doesn’t mean you can eat all of it in one sitting. So how long does smoked meat last? What’s its shelf life? Should it be refrigerated? And are there ways to improve how long it’ll keep its optimal flavor? Let’s review.
Table of Contents
- What are types of smoked meats?
- How long does smoked meat last in the refrigerator ?
- How long does smoked meat last in the freezer?
- How long does smoked meat last at room temperature?
- Does hot smoked or cold smoked matter to smoked meat shelf life?
- How do you know if your smoked meat has gone bad?
- Tips to extend the shelf life of smoked meats
- Must-read related posts
What are types of smoked meats?
Really, any meat can be smoked: beef, pork, chicken, turkey, and fish are all candidates. So why bring it up here? Because some types of meat are better at prolonged storage than others. When using the timeframes below (for refrigeration or freezing), map them to the order here, from longest-lasting to shortest:
- Smoked beef and pork
- Smoked chicken and turkey
- Smoked fish
Beef and pork should last the entire timeframe. Chicken and turkey won’t last quite as long as beef and pork. And fish will last the shortest, even under optimal storage conditions.
How long does smoked meat last in the refrigerator ?
If it’s been wrapped well in aluminum foil or plastic wrap (minimum) or stored in an airtight container (optimal), smoked meat can last in the fridge for up to four days. After that, it’s likely to start to spoil. If you’re not going to eat all of it within four days, freeze it for later.
If the smoked meat is simply placed on a plate in the refrigerator, it will only last one or two days. Be sure to check the meat well prior to eating (see our “How do you know if smoked meat has gone bad” section below.)
How long does smoked meat last in the freezer?
Smoked meat can last for up to three months in the freezer, when stored in freezer bags on an airtight container. However, it’s important to note that the quality of the meat will degrade the longer it is stored. For best overall flavor, eat smoked meats within two months of freezing.
How long does smoked meat last at room temperature?
Ideally, smoked meat should not be left at room temperature for more than two hours. If the temperature is above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the meat should not be left out for more than one hour. Leaving smoked meat out longer than these times can lead to bacterial growth and food poisoning.
Does hot smoked or cold smoked matter to smoked meat shelf life?
Yes, it does. Hot smoked meat is cooked meat that has also been exposed to smoke, whereas cold smoked meat is only exposed to smoke (it’s not cooked). Because hot smoked meat is cooked, it will last longer than cold smoked meats—usually about twice as long.
–> Learn More: Hot Smoking Vs. Cold Smoking – How Do They Compare?
How do you know if your smoked meat has gone bad?
There are a few telltale signs:
- The color has changed
- The texture is off (slimy or too dry)
- There is mold growing on it
- It smells bad
If you see any of these signs, err on the side of food safety. It’s best to throw the meat away. Even if your smoked meat looks and smells fine, it’s important to check the expiration date before you eat it. Once the expiration date has passed, the quality of the meat will start to decline. So if you’re not sure how long ago the meat was smoked, it’s best to err on the side of caution and throw it away.
Tips to extend the shelf life of smoked meats
To extend the shelf life of your smoked meats, there are a few things you can do:
- Good shelf life: Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or aluminum foil and place it in the refrigerator
- Better shelf life: Place it in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator
- Best shelf life: Store it in an airtight container in the freezer
Must-read related posts
- What Are The Best Fish To Smoke? Some fish are better than others to handle smoking.
- What’s The Best Wood For Smoking Ribs? You have many wood chip options. Which flavors work well?
- Cooking With Liquid Smoke: Discover the dos and don’ts of using this ingredient to bring smokiness to food.